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4 Things in Your House Dirtier Than A Toilet

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1. THE KEYBOARD YOU'RE USING RIGHT NOW.

Your keyboard can be an incredibly accurate representation of what's in your nose and your stomach. Of 33 randomly sampled computer keyboards tested by a British consumer group this year, four were dirty enough to be considered a health hazard, and one harbored hundreds of times more bacteria than your average toilet seat. Of course, not everyone's keyboard is this dirty; contributing factors include not washing your hands after using the bathroom, picking your nose, and eating at your computer (especially at work), as the crumbs left behind tend to become little bacteria factories. Experts recommend swabbing your keyboard with lightly dampened alcohol wipes on a regular basis—and be sure to shake those cookie crumbs out, too.

2. THE KITCHEN.

The way some folks keep their kitchens, it would be more sanitary to prepare dinner in the bathroom. You wouldn't know they were a health hazard to look at them, but everything from chopping boards and dishcloths to the plastic washing-up bowls they use in the UK and elsewhere can -- and often do—harbor an immense amount of food-borne bacteria. Put them all together—knives and a chopping board used to prepare raw chicken or fish in a plastic tub with warm soapy water—and you have almost ideal conditions for the spread of bacteria. Add to that the dishcloth you dry every dish with, which hangs semi-damp over the lip of the sink when not in use, and you've got a real kitchen nightmare (as opposed to the Gordon Ramsey kind). The solution? Health experts recommend washing up in the sink itself instead of a plastic tub, washing the sink out with bleach regularly, changing those dishtowels regularly and, ideally, installing a sensor-activated faucet so dirty hands aren't always touching the tap handles.

3. MEN'S WALLETS.

Of the everyday items in your house, one of the most fertile breeding grounds for bacteria is a man's wallet. You touch everything in it regularly—as do whatever strangers have passed its contents on to you—and it stays in your back pocket, a nice warm place for bugs to breed. (Proximity to one's booty was not otherwise considered a factor.) But are wallets a more serious menace than salmonella-encrusted kitchen sinks? Researchers at the International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene say no: "It is not whether bacteria are present, or how many there are, but what type they are."

4. WOMEN'S DESKS.

Sorry, ladies. It seems your desks—at home and at work—are often up to 400 times more bacteria-laden than a toilet seat, and 3 to 4 moreso than a man's desk. A research team at the University of Arizona offered several explanations: first and foremost, that women are more likely to keep snacks in their desk drawers, which promote mold and incubate bacteria like nobody's business. Secondly, make-up and lotions aid the transfer of bacteria from surface to surface, and more frequent contact with small children—who, let's face it, can be pretty germy—was also a contributor. "If there's ever a famine," one of the researchers said, "the first place I'll look for food is a woman's desk."

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Animals
Why Tiny 'Hedgehog Highways' Are Popping Up Around London
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Hedgehogs as pets have gained popularity in recent years, but in many parts of the world, they're still wild animals. That includes London, where close to a million of the creatures roam streets, parks, and gardens, seeking out wood and vegetation to take refuge in. Now, Atlas Obscura reports that animal activists are transforming the city into a more hospitable environment for hedgehogs.

Barnes Hedgehogs, a group founded by Michel Birkenwald in the London neighborhood of Barnes four years ago, is responsible for drilling tiny "hedgehog highways" through walls around London. The passages are just wide enough for the animals to climb through, making it easier for them to travel from one green space to the next.

London's wild hedgehog population has seen a sharp decline in recent decades. Though it's hard to pin down accurate numbers for the elusive animals, surveys have shown that the British population has dwindled by tens of millions since the 1950s. This is due to factors like human development and habitat destruction by farmers who aren't fond of the unattractive shrubs, hedges, and dead wood that hedgehogs use as their homes.

When such environments are left to grow, they can still be hard for hedgehogs to access. Carving hedgehog highways through the stone partitions and wooden fences bordering parks and gardens is one way Barnes Hedgehogs is making life in the big city a little easier for its most prickly residents.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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Big Questions
Where Should You Place the Apostrophe in President's Day?
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Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" infers that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the nearly 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.


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Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington/Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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